Monday, October 19, 2009

The Progressive’s First Responsibility

We cannot turn on the news without being bombarded with a plethora of issues, each critical to solve.  Sometimes in the maze of all these things, we lose track of what it is to be a progressive and where our first responsibility lies.

HomelessShelter The first night after she surrendered her house to foreclosure, Sheri West endured the darkness in her Hyundai sedan. She parked in her old driveway, with her flower-print dresses and hats piled in boxes on the back seat, and three cherished houseplants on the floor. She used her backyard as a restroom.The second night, she stayed with a friend, and so it continued for more than a year: Ms. West — mother of three grown children, grandmother to six and great-grandmother to one — passed months on the couches of friends and relatives, and in the front seat of her car.

But this fall, she exhausted all options. She had once owned and overseen a group home for homeless people. Now, she succumbed to that status herself, checking in to a shelter.

“No one could have told me that in a million years: I’d wake up in a homeless shelter,” she said. “I had a house for homeless people. Now, I’m homeless.”

Growing numbers of Americans who have lost houses to foreclosure are landing in homeless shelters, according to social service groups and a recent report by a coalition of housing advocates.

Only three years ago, foreclosure was rarely a factor in how people became homeless. But among the homeless people that social service agencies have helped over the last year, an average of 10 percent lost homes to foreclosure, according to “Foreclosure to Homelessness 2009,” a survey produced by the National Coalition for the Homeless and six other advocacy groups…

Inserted from <NY Times>

This woman’s tragic tale is one among millions.  The bottom 40% of Americans own 0.2% of the wealth.  The rich enjoy all the benefits of socialism, while the poor are stuck with free enterprise.  Crony capitalism amounts to nothing more than corporate plutocracy (Rule by the very rich through corporate control of government).  The plutocrats tell you that everyone in this country has an equal opportunity to become a success.  They point to examples of fabulously wealthy people from each generation as proof.  But these examples are only very rare exceptions to the rule that the more imbalanced a society’s distribution of wealth becomes, the less opportunity exists for all but the most favored classes.

As progressives, our first responsibility is to undo the inequity in our society so that common people have more opportunity for a better life.  That means meeting people at the point of their need.  At Crooks and Liars I found an excellent video from Bernie Sanders called The Gilded Age.  Here it is.

 

To view all the videos I have uploaded to YouTube, Click Here.

What are your thoughts on this?

16 comments:

The Moose said...

It's a sad situation indeed.

I hear you been lookin' for me, Bud, I've been in D.C. covering a breaking story.

rjs said...

something is wrong with a country that has 19 million empty homes and a million homeless schoolchildren...

rjs said...

more grist for this mill: Hooverville 2009: Where's the Anger, America?

TomCat said...

Hiya Rodent! You have? Dang! I thought I munched you with the gophers on Bro's farm!

RJ, that is ironic, isn't it? Thanks for the link.

Jack Jodell said...

Bernie Sanders is my favorite Senator. The conditions he describes are wholly accurate and are a strong testimonial as to the total failure of capitalism in this country. The ongoing exploitation and money-grabbing by the top 1% in this country is morally outrageous and basnkrupt, and MUST be ended! These people abuse and manipulate our economics, media, and government. It is time for feet to march, voices to scream, and action to be taken. Our laws and courts have been twisted and perverted to work against the majority of citizens. The time is rapidly approaching for a massive uprising. Things CANNOT continue in the current fashion! Fabulous post, TomCat! We progressives MUST start pushing as never before!

ivan said...

I was asked yesterday to address an audience of local poor as an author who had his own ins and outs with homelessness and shelters.
...Publish or perish, I suppose.
I finally did publish and was asked to address an audience of 400, organized by something called CAPP in Newmarket, Ontario, the P's in the acronym standing mostly for poverty.
My take on homelessness and poverty is pretty well the same as yours. If you care to, click onto
http://www.creativewriting.ca

Sue said...

Tom what I find disheartening is this womans large family and not a single one reached out to help her, to take her in with them to live?? I hope to God my family would be there for me if I was in that situation. What happened to the good ole days of the Waltons where 3 generations lived under the same roof? I love that concept. GOD BLESS OUR SICK AMERICA....

Middle Ditch said...

I had the same question as Sue. Where is her extended family or is it a sign of the times? It's all so very sad.

MadMike said...

This was a thought provoking read indeed Tom. I am, however, with the majority of your readers: I still love America but Sue said it best:
God Bless our SICK America.

TomCat said...

Jack, I agree, and congrats on being visitor # 8,000. :-)

Ivan, I will definitely check that out, as soon as I have time to breathe.

Sue and Monique. I wish I had a definitive answer. Some, like me, have no extended family. Others live thousands of miles away from them. Still others, the most of all I would guess, come from dysfunctional families. As much as the GOP claims to be pro-family, their economic policies have generated so much emotional trauma in the poor and middle classes that they have shattered far more families than they have valued.

Mike, if I did not love America, I would not do what I do. In Civil Disobedience, Henry David Thoreau says that some men serve their country with their body, and others, with their mind. But the truest patriots are those that serve their country with their conscience, and therefore oppose it when it is wrong.

God bless our SICK America. Amen!

an average patriot said...

That is sick! That is only one reason why it peeves us all when they say the recovery has begun. Yeah for the stock market and the wealthy.
We still have a ways down to go. Our economy will not recover unless they pass health care reform!

TomCat said...

Jim, I'd qualify that by saying that the economy may recover, but health care costs will overtake the recovery in short order.

Jo said...

I agree with Sue. Where is this woman's family? Did she raise those three children in that house? Maybe the feeling of being self-absorbed is creeping into families as well.

I think there is a much larger picture of moral decay happening in America, one that perhaps is not "fixable".

an average patriot said...

I agree Bud, that equals out to No Recovery!

themom said...

Heartbreaking! I always wonder if these people's families have been approached and refused to take them in - or is it pride, and the homeless are shamed to cry for help. Then there are those who fall through the cracks. The mental health facilities are releasing a lot of these people onto the streets, because of the lack of funding.

Healthcare reform needs to be passed expeditiously and fair!

TomCat said...

Jo, the decay has been obvious for me for many years. Any culture in which profit precedes people is in deep trouble. That's why I won't give up.

Amen, Jim.

Mom, I agree. The mentally ill are also warehoused in prisons.